With The Jocks by Peter White

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by regular_imbiber, Sep 3, 2010.

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  1. Has above mentioned book been read by anyone and reviewed/discussed on here?

    I read this book a couple of years ago but it caught my eye while dusting the book-case last night and as I quickly scanned through it I decided to read it again. Could put my thoughts up in a couple of days if thats ok.

    Apologies if theres already a thread on it.
  2. excellent book, i read it a few months ago. "just" a platoon commander in a relatively overlooked part of the war (1945). i mistakenly thought it was pretty much plain sailing by that point, with the wehrmacht largely on the run and the allies sweeping aside the opposition - but i was amazed at the intensity of some of the "minor" skirmishes. his description of being pinned down in an exposed shellscrape whilst being shelled, mortared and machine-gunned will stick in the mind for a long time.

    and the "blue on blue" incident was a startling reminder that this is not a new phenomenom... his stoical attitude to the whole episode is quite remarkable.
  3. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor


    By all means put up your thoughts on this excellent book.

    I have it and it is a great tale of a platoon commander from Normandy - North German Plain 1944-45. A very sobering tale.

    This book is worthy of any bookshelf and is a great read (even if he is KOSB!!! :) )

  4. An outstanding book, and one of the best descriptions I've read of life as an infantry soldier in WW2. The author's descriptions of life in shell scrapes and foxholes during the winter of 44-45 reminded me just how bloody cold it was when I did my basic training trench week and battle camp in the late 1970s...that was hard enough withough anyone even shooting at me then...

    A great book and right up there with Jary's 18 Platoon.

  5. Seconded - excellent book.

    Mind you, the troop leader who was involved in the blue-on-blue wasn't so stoic. And reading the author's post-war biography, you got the feeling the war had done a fair bit of damage to the author...
  6. "Thirded": I have read it twice, and is one of my favourite WWII books.
  7. I read it a few years ago, with particular interest because my Grandad (a brit Royal Marine, in an Indep Inf Bde that formed part of 2nd Canadian Army, and whose formation's story seems never to have been told) was flogging his way towards Bremen at about the same time as White was also flogging eastward, on an axis only a little further south.

    I took the trouble to trace, on the CWGC website, the grave of 'the one-man army' whose exploits and sudden death are described. That kind of brought the story even closer.

    It is excellently written, conveying, in particular, the care the infantry were taking in those closing months of the War in Europe, to avoid casualties: I'm thinking in particular of the passage describing an 'advance to contact' in woodland. I found the weight of fire eventually employed to deal with a small group of defenders, was seriously thought-provoking.

    Well worth reading that section again, before, or in parallel with anything about XXX Corps' advance up the 'airborne corridor' - which many will be re-visiting, as the anniversary approaches.
  8. I challenge anyone not to be moved by endurance and attrition rate suffered by White and his gallant men.

    As others have pointed out, the writers claim to be 'just' another platoon is a massive understatement. Just read of his actions as he leads his men up a railway embankment (stepping over the bodies of mates who'd gone before them) and into the teeth of a well laid German defensive plan. A generation unsurpassed.
  9. Whilst scanning through the book again over the past few days I was really struck by the relationship and attitude towards the "Jocks" that White holds.

    He seems to study them from afar and consider their behaviour deeply. He bemoans their use of alcohol and language but through it all his affection and admiration for what they went through (together) is never far away.
  10. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I must admit that I got that impression also but thought it was just me picking things up wrongly. It seems almost as though he is in a 'bubble' observing all that is going on, rather than being in the middle of it all.

    Does not detract from the story, but still leaves a strange feeling.
  11. Someone cleverer than me once wrote "The past is another country, they do things differently there". The Officer/OR divide in the conscript army of 1939-45 was massive - 'life back then' bears little resemblance to the relationship between Regular Officers and ORs, that has become the norm since (say) the end of conscription at the end of the 1960s - or, perhaps, since the 1971 demise of the 2-yr RMAS course, because of competition from Universities. (I've said this elsewhere: if you haven't already seen it, look on YouTube for the 5-part series of videos beginning with Guards1 to get some kind of a feel for the 'preferred model' that prevailed back in the day)
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  12. By far the best account of a wartime platoon commander I have read and I have read more than a few. A very intelligent rendering and IMO much superior to Jary (though not wishing to take anything whatsoever away from the latter gentleman).

    I think the difference in ages, and thus perspectives, between the two men - White being a bit older and more mature than Jary - may account for the richness of 'With the Jocks'. I was deeply impressed by this book and remain so. I found myself looking at his photograph trying to comprehend what must have been going on in his mind after all that.
  13. if you liked it (which I hope you did - great book) then of course, you will need to read "Quartered safe out here" by GM Fraser and also suggest "So Few Got Through" (a Coy Comd's view on the war).